Almost my entire life I have been confronted and affronted by people who thought they knew what was best for my life. Although many of these individuals meant well, their misguided advice only served either to insult me or enslave me to the various cultural “norms” of Canadian society. Although I love and respect some of these individuals, their advice, on occasion, was not necessarily in my best interest, but was rather a preprogrammed notion or desire of their own to be lived out in my personal life. In fact, by the time I finished high school I had it up to my “eyeballs” with the unsolicited advice of others. It was about then when I realized that everyone one of us has some sort of agenda in life, not only for ourselves, but, unfortunately for others.
A lesson I need to take to heart as an “advisor” to my young adults today.
I find it interesting when I come across people who are conformists to the letter “C”, especially when it comes to following the preprogrammed expectations and norms of Canadian society. Even the “rebels” of our society often follow an obvious preprogrammed script, as it were.
During the time I worked in the Northern part of our province, predominantly amongst the Aboriginal and Metis people, I was continually amazed at how many of the youth had taken on the Gangsta Rap or Hardcore Rap culture that, as far as I understand, originated predominantly amongst African Americans in the USA. They talked the talk and walked the walk of a Rapper, not realizing that they were simply conforming to another sub-culture of American society. Somebody, somewhere was getting filthy rich at their expense.
Granted, life on the Northern reserves and some of the more isolated Metis communities, for lack of a better descriptor, is absolutely tragic. My words would do no justice in describing the poverty and despair that I witnessed. Alcohol and drug abuse, overcrowded housing, violent crime, incest and other forms of sexual abuse, the list is almost endless. In fact, one small community that I worked in had the highest rate of teenage suicide in the country. The population of the town was only 5000 including the peripheral reserve communities.
As a civil servant working in the field of Communications for a Northern health district, I felt it was part of my responsibility to keep the general public informed as to the tragedies occurring all around me. Yet, more often than not, I would face obstacles, gag orders, and even threats NOT to publish the facts, from my perspective, by the powers that be. As a non-partisan civil servant, there is not a whole lot of wiggle room. I had no choice but to conform and comply to government orders and demands. Eventually, I would see a general press release put out to the public that obscured the real issues and made the political leaders smell like a rose.
Of course, there was always somebody in the health district who was willing to leak incomplete or even non-factual stories to the press and the local press would eagerly run with it. Fact checking was overlooked in favour of sensationalism. Besides, it would reveal the source(s) of the leaks. I always found that unethical and distasteful. Tracking down the source of the leaks could never be a rewarding experience either, and I did not envy those who were assigned to that task.
I am very thankful I made the decision, a number of years ago, to return to my home to be with my family on a regular basis. I took on mind-numbing job(s) in the city for another few years before I made the decision to move towards the crossroads of semi-retirement. Sometimes the things that we witness and experience just aren’t worth the cost to our emotional health including personal peace and joy.
Looking back, I now know that God Himself was leading and guiding me back to a place of peace and contentedness. There’s no place like home 🙂
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